Canadian construction firms confident about market
By Adam FreillConstruction Green Construction Infrastructure Labour Leadership Residential
Procore survey suggests majority of Canadian construction companies are confident about upcoming 12 months, and see value of data and tech.
Nine out of 10 Canadian construction companies polled for Procore Technologies’ How We Build Now: Technology and industry trends shaping Canadian construction in 2023 report are confident about industry conditions over the next 12 months. The construction industry benchmark report commissioned by the software company examines the general sentiment of the industry, the digital maturity and adoption of construction technologies, as well as the challenges and opportunities that businesses face.
“We are encouraged to see the Canadian construction industry’s leaders express optimism as they look to consolidate and build on post-pandemic progress,” said Nolan Frazier, regional sales director for Canada at Procore.
Among the key findings in the report are that seven of 10 construction businesses are expecting an increase in the number or value of projects over the coming year, although labour and supply chain concerns continue to be felt in the industry. Many companies see technology as a way to help navigate those issues, however.
Following a poll in March that revealed 92 per cent of Canadians see an urgent need to build more or update current infrastructure in Canada over the next two years, the How We Build Now (Canada) report looked at the residential sector, finding that 43 per cent expect to build more housing units in 2023 compared to 2022, although results vary by region. Over half of residential sector respondents from B.C. and Alberta expect to build and deliver fewer housing units in 2023, whereas 60 per cent of Ontario companies in the sector expect to build and deliver more housing units compared to last year.
Labour shortages and supply chain problems remain key concerns for the industry. Respondents to the latest survey consider hiring and retaining skilled labour as one of the top challenges they face over the next 12 months. Almost a third of companies say they have not been able to take on more projects over the past six months due to the labour shortage.
Supply chain problems are impacting respondents to a different extent across the country. Quebec-based respondents report the highest impact, with 41 per cent reporting significant delays due to supply chain issues, compared to 35 per cent of respondents from Ontario and just a quarter of respondents in B.C.
Construction firms in Canada are going digital in their efforts to overcome labour shortages. More than 20 per cent say they consider themselves a digital-first business and 51 per cent are ‘well on the way’ to adopting digital formats and workflows. Key reasons for the digital transformation include reduction of rework, efficiency and cost control.
Although the trend is to digital, paper remains a common medium for about a quarter of Canadian construction decision makers.
The industry believes in the value of data, but respondents indicate they are not able to leverage it to the fullest. Forty-one per cent of respondents feel that they would be able to make better decisions if they had better access to real-time and historic information on project performance.
Respondents estimated savings of more than 10 per cent of total spending on projects if they captured, integrated and standardized data more efficiently. Although half of respondents say they have a foundation in place to begin learning from their data, many don’t necessarily have a dedicated data team in place. One in five say much of their data exists in spreadsheets or on paper and they do not leverage that information to drive business outcomes.
Respondents rate construction management platforms, clean technologies involving green, sustainable or innovative materials, and next generation BIM as the top technologies that will drive change in the construction industry over the next three years.
“This survey shows half of the respondents see a need to embrace greater collaboration in projects among stakeholders; half of them are also well on their way in their digital transformation journey,” stated Frazier. “Ultimately, smarter construction empowers construction businesses to have better control of their projects and deliver higher quality builds.”
Overall, the industry is keen to adopt more environmentally conscious and sustainable building practices. Half of the respondents have started to focus on strategies like prefabrication and improved material selection to reduce the carbon footprint of their projects. Four in 10 are either currently tracking or plan to start tracking carbon emissions within the next 12 months on their construction projects.
Looking at the diversification of the labour pool in construction in Canada, women continue to make up a minority of the construction workforce, particularly in executive roles. Subcontractors have the lowest ratio when it comes to having female members on staff. Only 22 per cent of executive staff at trade contractors are female compared with around 25 per cent at owners and general contractors.
Almost four in 10 construction decision makers believe that there is a need to improve diversity and inclusion in construction workplaces to attract women, minorities and historically underrepresented groups, however only 41 per cent of respondents have a diversity and inclusion policy in place, although another 45 per cent are planning to implement one in the next 12 months.
Despite some fundamental labour challenges, respondents are optimistic about the future. Approximately eight in 10 are confident they will have enough people to meet their organizational needs and the necessary skills to meet demand over the next 12 months.
To download the How We Build Now: Technology and industry trends shaping Canadian construction in 2023 report, visit http://www.procore.com/en-ca/ebooks/how-we-build-now-report-can
Procore is hosting a panel discussion with the Canadian Construction Association, the Mechanical Contractors Association of Canada, and the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association on July 13. For details, or to register, visit https://www.procore.com/en-ca/webinars/how-we-build-now-2023.